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Hydrotherapy - Treatment, Procedure And Side Effects

What is the treatment?

Hydrotherapy, earlier called the hydropathy is defined as the use of water to treat a medical condition or to maintain the general health. The therapy belongs to conventional medicine as well as alternative medicine. It is said to be used in naturopathy, physiotherapy, and occupational therapy. The treatment involves the therapeutic use of water to provide healing effects.

Many prefer hydrotherapy or Aqua therapy as it is a natural way of treatment and the results are approving. Water has many properties that aid in providing relief. It improves blood flow and has a soothing, calming, and relaxing effect on the patient. Certain postures when done in water are easier to do and provide immense relief to painful joints. The increase in buoyancy (opposite to gravity) allows for more degrees of activity and hence exercises done in water are more effective than when done on land. Different temperature conditions inside the water also play a role in this therapy. The increase in temperature and hydrostatic pressure increases blood circulation and body’s flexibility and decreases swelling.

Hydrotherapy differs from swimming because this constitutes specific postures and exercises and is commonly administered in a hot water pool. The water temperature of such a pool is usually maintained between 33-36 º C. which is warmer than a typical swimming pool.

How is the treatment done?

Hydrotherapy primarily includes anything from floating in the water and directly benefiting from the increased temperature and relaxation properties to highly intense exercise sessions. The form of hydrotherapy used will depend entirely on the conditions of the individual undergoing treatment. Many land based exercises can be therapeutically used in the water. Walking in a pool is easy on the joints due to the buoyancy. Some state-of-the-art facilities may even have underwater treadmills! Other exercises such as squats and lunges can also be done inside the pool.

One method of hydrotherapy is also known as the Bad Ragaz Ring Method. It is a form of muscle re-education where the patient is kept afloat, and specific patterns of resistance, endurance, elongation, relaxation, a range of motion, and tonal reduction techniques are applied. As mentioned earlier all the exercises are progressed by increasing the speed of the movement or the turbulence of the water. Other methods of increasing difficulty include increasing surface area. This can be achieved for example by holding something wide in hand (such as a racket or bat) when moving it through the water.

The buoyancy of the water acts as either a tool to assist movement or to increase the difficulty of an exercise. For example, when using the shoulder, the water can be used to help in lifting the arm upwards from by the side. Also, the water will provide some resistance against pushing the arm back down. This resistance can be increased further by attaching a float to the arm.

Who is eligible for the treatment? (When is the treatment done?)

Hydrotherapy is used in many illnesses and medical conditions. It is effective in most cases of arthritis and rheumatic illness. It is also advised to asthma patients and a range of problems such as cold, depression, stomach problems, nerve problems, headaches, and sleep disorders. It is also used by many to maintain the overall health. The treatment is most effective for Stage-1 patients. In the case of higher severity of illness, it is used along with other treatments. Statistics says that hydrotherapy has a very high success rate when it is used for a prolonged time. It shows satisfying results in most cases. However, the severity assessment is the primary criteria for the effectiveness of the treatment.

Who is not eligible for the treatment?

Hydrotherapy is advisable to everyone, however, under certain circumstances, hydrotherapy is not recommended.

The therapy is not recommended for persons with:

  • Acute injuries with redness still visible on the injury
  • High temperature
  • Heart disease - increased blood flow may put stress on the heart
  • Hypertension (high blood pressure) – increased blood flow may place stress on the heart
  • Vascular conditions - Extensive circulation is not advised in such a situation
  • Kidney problems
  • Cancer
  • Haemorrhage

Are there any side effects?

Hydrotherapy is safe if it is administered correctly. Several people may react differently to the extent and magnitude of treatment. Some people may have headaches, aches and pains, sleep problems, nausea, chilliness, and faintness. It is important to discuss the physical condition and medical history with the doctor or physical therapist before trying hydrotherapy.

Always tell the doctor if an alternative therapy is already on. It is not safe to forgo conventional medical treatment and rely only on an alternative treatment. Invasive hydrotherapy techniques like enemas, douching, and colonic irrigation is not well accepted by medicinal science because these internal cleansing methods can cause damage to an individual by interfering with the natural balance of the digestive tract.

Hydrotherapy often puts on a risk of allergic reaction known as "contact dermatitis" for some patients using essential herbs and oils in their bath water. Overheating is one of the most common side effects of hydrotherapy, which can be very harmful. This may occur when an individual spends too much time in a hot tub or pool.

What are the post-treatment guidelines?

There is no specific post treatment instruction after undergoing hydrotherapy. Though it should be kept in mind to maintain the patient at ease for a few hours after the treatment. Laborious works should not be undertaken. It should also be borne in mind that the patient is kept warm after the treatment or else there arise chances of catching a cold.

How long does it take to recover?

There is no fixed recovery time for this treatment. The individual can walk out if he or she feels comfortable in doing so. Though it depends on the practitioner, who accesses the conditions of a severity of the ailments and decides the recovery time.

What is the price of the treatment in India?

The cost of one session Hydrotherapy depends on the severity of the ailment of the patient. The average price of the treatment in India ranges between INR 1000 to INR 10000depending on the case and the organization performing the therapy.

Are the results of the treatment permanent?

The results of hydrotherapy are not permanent as it gives temporary relief from the ailment by increasing the flow of blood. Though prolonged used of hydrotherapy have shown instances of permanent cure in arthritis and asthma.

What are the alternatives to the treatment?

Some common alternatives of hydrotherapy are a Steam bath, Sauna Bath, Spa therapy, Sitz bath, Wet sock treatment, and Hot fomentation.

Safety: Medium Effectiveness: Medium Timeliness: Medium Relative Risk: High Side Effects: Medium Recovery Time: Medium Price Range: RS. 1000 - Rs. 10,000

Popular Health Tips

BPT, MPT - Orthopedic Physiotherapy
Physiotherapist, Sangrur
Physiotherapy is a combination of electrotherapy and exercise therapy. In electrotherapy various agents like heat, cold, sound, hydrotherapy, electrical stimulation, etc. Can be used to reduce pain and discomfort in patients. The primary role of these agents is to prepare the muscles and joints of a body for exercises.
23 people found this helpful

Benefits of water fitness

FRHS, Ph.D Neuro , MPT - Neurology Physiotherapy, D.Sp.Med, DPHM (Health Management ), BPTh/BPT
Physiotherapist, Chennai
Benefits of water fitness
Benefits of water fitness
A. Hydrotherapy is really good for bone related problems like osteoporosis arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis back pain spondylitis and other types of arthritis
B. Strengthens weak muscles
C. Reduces pressure on painful joints
D alleviates stress
E. Improves coordination balance and posture
F. Increases core strength and stability
G. Aids weight loss.
46 people found this helpful

3 Exercise Techniques in Ankylosing Spondylitis

Physiotherapist, Noida
3 Exercise Techniques in Ankylosing Spondylitis

A typical forty-minute group hydrotherapy session may include:·        

  • A warming up with some cardiovascular content·        
  • Mobilizing exercises against the side of the pool·        
  • Fun and games·        
  • Strengthening exercises in supine and prone·        
  • Trunk and leg stretches·        
  • A cooling down with neck exercises, breathing exercises and relaxation. 


Hydrotherapy is an effective way of treating AS as it provides heat whilst

encouraging exercise. 

The warmth of water can relieve pain and muscle pain and

muscle spasm and promote relaxation. Dry-land exercises are most effective

directly after hydrotherapy.  


Physical fitness can be improved by cardiovascular exercise that increases the muscle strength and endurance as well as exercising the heart and lungs.This form of exercise can improve stamina, and enables people to pursue their work and hobbies with greater ease.Circuits in the gym should include a variety of strengthening and stretching exercises interspersed with low-impact cardio-vascular exercises such as the rowing machine and static bike. High-impact activities such as jogging and step-ups can aggravate the weight-bearing joints. Low-impact cardiovascular activities such as swimming, aquarobics, cycling and walking increase stamina and muscle endurance without aggravating the joints.

Cardiovascular exercise can also be undertaken in the hydrotherapy pool.Contact sports such as rugby and football are best avoided as the joints can be aggravated and a fused spine can be at risk from contact with other players.With increased respiratory excursion, cardiovascular exercise helps to mobilize the thoracic joints and maintain or improve chest expansion and vital capacity.Regular cardiovascular exercise has other benefits, including body weight reduction, and protection from heart disease and diabetes. It also can improve sleep, relaxation and well being. 


Keep the neck and shoulders under water as much as possible by standing in the correct depth of water. If necessary, bend knees and hips. The faster the movement is performed, the more the turbulence and therefore the greater the resistance. 

Count out loud and perform the activity at least 10 times to increase the CV content and respiratory excursion still further.

1.      Walk with big strides forwards, backwards or sideways around the edge of the pool. Exaggerate the arm swing and trunk movements. Change direction quickly into the turbulence created.

2.      Clasp the hands together under the water straight out in front and swish the arms as far round as possible to right and left.

3.      Bend the right knee and reach down to the outside of the right heel with the right hand. Repeat to other side.

4.      Hop, touching the right elbow to a bent left knee. repeat to the other side.

5.      Lump, punching the right arm forwards and the left leg backwards. Repeat to the other side.

How Can Osteoarthritis Patients Benefit From Physiotherapy?

Physiotherapist, Noida
How Can Osteoarthritis Patients Benefit From Physiotherapy?

It cannot really be a nice situation to be in when a person happens to have osteoarthritis. So, while a lot of the effort to improve the situation is focused on making use of painkilling medicines, can physiotherapy help in such cases?

Well, the answer is a resounding yes! When osteoarthritis patients practice some physiotherapy on a regular basis, what they will find is that a fair amount of the freedom they had before the condition affected them would have returned. Is this not some great news?

  • When it comes to active physiotherapy in order to improve a situation of osteoarthritis, it is generally divided to fall into categories. These categories are namely exercises in strengthening and exercises in flexibility. While the former group aims to make the joints stronger, the latter makes an effort to restore the normal functioning as a result of increasing the range of motion.
  • Truth be told, it can be said that both are of very high importance in order to cause an improvement. In addition to this, following the directions of the physiotherapist is vital, as an expert knows what hero she is talking about!
  • While a lot has been told about active physiotherapy, in order to fight osteoarthritis, what can be said of passive physiotherapy for the condition? There are three general categories of treatment under passive physiotherapy. They are heat therapy, cold therapy and hydrotherapy. The aim is to use the different sensations the three have so as to cause an improvement in the circulation of blood in the area or to reduce the extent of the pain and symptoms which are part and parcel of having osteoarthritis.
  • Cold therapy usually takes place by the way of a cold compress which is applied to the knee. What the aim is, in this case, is that the amount of swelling in the region will reduce and so, the pain that is being felt will also recede, to some extent.
  • On the other hand, in the case of heat therapy, improved blood flow helps decrease the amount of stiffness. Mobility is obviously an issue when it comes to having osteoarthritis and the best way to get mobile again is to do so in water where the impact is very minimal, as compared to other surfaces. This is why hydrotherapy exists and is so successful.
  • A lot of osteoarthritis exercises can be done at home after the proper technique is learnt and with such benefits, everyone would wish to learn!

In case you have a concern or query you can always consult an expert & get answers to your questions!

6605 people found this helpful

Cervical Osteoarthritis - Physiotherapy Treatment For It!!

Diploma in Rehabilitation (Physiotherapy), DPT
Physiotherapist, Delhi
Cervical Osteoarthritis - Physiotherapy Treatment For It!!

Cervical osteoarthritis is also known as cervical spondylosis. It is a medical condition which involves changes in the joints of neck, bones and discs. This is generally caused due to the deterioration of the muscles owing to old age. With age, the cervical spine breaks down and loses all its fluids. This leads to stiffness in the spine. It occurs usually in middle aged and old aged people. This causes stiffness and severe neck pain. Corrective surgery is helpful to cure Cervical Osteoarthritis.

Symptoms of Cervical Osteoarthritis:

  1. Pain and stiffness in the neck.
  2. Headache which usually emerges from the neck.
  3. Severe pain in the arms and shoulder.
  4. Not being able to turn the head or neck fully while driving.
  5. Muscle spasm and abnormal reflexes.
  6. Grinding sensation or noise caused while bending the neck.

Cervical Osteoarthritis can be cured by physiotherapy in the following ways:

  1. Heat modalities- In this method the pain and stiffness is reduced by putting heat on the affected area. This type of therapy is called heat therapy.
  2. Neck exercise- Regular stretching and bending exercises for the neck can reduce pain and stiffness
  3. Manipulating therapy- This form of therapy is used by massage therapists. They massage and manipulate the joints so that the muscles can function smoothly.
  4. Hydrotherapy- This therapy involves exercising in a pool. Hydrotherapy is extremely beneficial for people having severe joint pain and stiffness.
  5. Cervical traction- This is a common non-surgical treatment which cures pain in the neck by opening the cervical foramen (hole or passage).

Physiotherapy is the most natural and safe way of curing cervical osteoarthritis. If you are diagnosed with cervical spondylosis, you should start physiotherapy as soon as possible. If you wish to discuss about any specific problem, you can consult a Physiotherapist.

4442 people found this helpful

Popular Questions & Answers

Should I go for hydrotherapy if I have ankylosing spondylitis. Will it be beneficial? And for how long will the effects last? And if you know any doctor in Ghaziabad area who specializes in hydrotherapy please let me know. thank you.

MBBS, MS - Orthopaedics, DNB - Orthopedics
Orthopedist, Pune
Hydrotherapy in combination with anti inflammatory and physiotherapy can give a reasonably long relief Dose adjustments need to be done for acute flares if any.

M 28 years old. I am suffering from 1 problem from past 8-9 months. My problem is urine burning. When I go for urine at the end urine burns a lot. In September 2015 I go for sonography it shows infection in bladder. I take medicines but problem still persists. Last month again I did sonography then it shows minor stone and bladder infection. Then I hospitalised for 4 days for hydrotherapy stone removal now stone gone. But I still have urine burning problem. Now from last 4 days doctor given me calcury (charak) and levomac 500. But M still suffering from urine burning problem. I also try lots of kitchen products barley water, coriander water, coconut water but nothing works. Please help me and suggest me a best medicine for my problem. I want permanent solution. Waiting for your reply.

Homeopath, Faridabad
Prevention of kidney stones may include a combination of lifestyle changes and medications. Lifestyle changes you may reduce your risk of kidney stones if you: drink water throughout the day. For people with a history of kidney stones, drink 12-14 glasses of water everyday. If you live in a hot, dry climate or you exercise frequently, you may need to drink even more water to produce enough urine. If your urine is light and clear, you're likely drinking enough water. 1 eat fewer oxalate-rich foods. If you tend to form calcium oxalate stones, restrict foods rich in oxalates. These include rhubarb, beets, bhindi (okra), spinach, swiss chard, sweet potatoes, nuts, tea, chocolate and soy products. Choose a diet low in salt and animal protein. Reduce the amount of salt you eat and choose non animal protein sources, such as legumes. Consider using a salt substitute. Continue eating calcium-rich foods, but use caution with calcium supplements. Calcium in food doesn't have an effect on your risk of kidney stones. Continue eating calcium-rich foods unless your doctor advises otherwise. Ask your doctor before taking calcium supplements, as these have been linked to increased risk of kidney stones. You may reduce the risk by taking supplements with meals. Diets low in calcium can increase kidney stone formation in some people. W medication: take homoeopathic medicines - can notharis 30/ 3 times a day and berberis vulgaris q/ 10 drops in 1/2 cup of water/ thrice daily for 4 weeks. Revert.

I am 36 years old is it safe to walk on treadmill on incline no. 10 and speed 7.5. Would walking on incline would do bad effect on knees.

Fellowship in Shoulder and Upper Limb, Fellowship in Joint Replacement, MS - Orthopaedics, MBBS
Orthopedist, Mumbai
Yes it is safe to walk. You can even try walking in swimming pool in waist high water (hydrotherapy) for exercise.
1 person found this helpful

Table of Content

What is the treatment?
How is the treatment done?
Who is eligible for the treatment? (When is the treatment done?)
Who is not eligible for the treatment?
Are there any side effects?
What are the post-treatment guidelines?
How long does it take to recover?
What is the price of the treatment in India?
Are the results of the treatment permanent?
What are the alternatives to the treatment?
Having issues? Consult a doctor for medical advice